BLOOMINGTON — All remaining challenges to petitions filed by candidates running for Bloomington mayor and City Council were dismissed Monday, settling the ballots heading into the Feb. 28 primary and April 4 election.
Bruce Meeks of Bloomington formally withdrew his objections to the nominating petitions of Mayor Tari Renner, Ward 5 Alderman Joni Painter and Ward 3 candidate J Balmer before a hearing by the Bloomington Board of Election Commissioners was to begin Monday morning.
Meeks was not present, but he withdrew his objections via email.
On Thursday, the elections board had ruled against Meeks' objections to nominating petitions filed by Ward 8 Alderman Diana Hauman in her bid for mayor.
In another case, commissioners ruled in favor of Renner on Friday over objections raised by Bloomington resident Kevin Gerrard.
Painter declined comment after the ruling, but Renner and Balmer questioned the motives of Meeks in filing the challenges.
Renner said “it's pretty clear” that the challenges were “politically motivated,” adding that there was “no real evidence any of the petitions had any real defects.”
Balmer said if Meeks were truly concerned about the “minutia” of filing requirements, “he would have filed the same objections to everybody that filed.”
Instead, “only certain people were picked out,” said Balmer.
He said the ability to object to nominating petitions is very important. However, Balmer said the intent of the election laws is to prevent fraud, corruption and deception, and none of the objections focused on those concerns.
Meeks did not respond to voicemail messages from The Pantagraph seeking comments.
The other candidates for Bloomington mayor are Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Lower, former radio talk show host Ian Bayne and retired Bloomington firefighter Robert Fike.
Balmer is challenging incumbent Ward 3 alderman Mboka Mwilambwe. Other candidates in that race are Gary Lambert and Bob Clay.
Painter will face Guadalupe “Lupe” Diaz III in the Ward 5 race.
The mayoral primary will be Feb. 28.
The municipal election for council candidates and the top two vote-getters in the mayoral primary will be April 4.
Among questions raised in Gerrard's challenge of Renner's petition was the inclusion of “signatures” that were printed.
Denise Williams, chairwoman of the Bloomington Board of Election Commissioners, said the board will be contacting the State Board of Elections to see if nomination forms can be changed to specifically include spaces saying “print” and “signature” to make it more clear.
She also intends to ask state officials, “What do we do in five or six years when kids don't know cursive?”